Family & Community Education
Liaison: Professor Hope Jensen Leichter
Faculty: Professors Hope Jensen Leichter and Herve Varenne
Teachers College continues its long history of groundbreaking work on Family and Community Education through the specialization in Family and Community Education in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies. In this specialization a founding premise concerning educational configurations is central. In all societies individuals learn from many others in their social networks, e.g. parents, siblings, grandparents, peers, clergy, as well as teachers and other professionals. What is more, education takes place through many institutions, e.g. families, day-care centers, businesses, the media, museums, libraries, community agencies, religious institutions, as well as the schools. Since the configurations of these educational networks and institutions are subject to change-sometimes drastic changes such as those associated with new technological enterprises-studies in Family and Community Education examine the changing linkages among educative institutions in the community.
Fundamental changes in education also stem from the extensive transnational migration and immigration taking place in many areas of the world today. Given increasing geographic mobility, together with new forms of communication, an understanding of the connections between local and global cultures and the resources families and communities bring from one area to another is essential for educators and policy makers. Thus, another focus of the specialization is studies of family migration, immigration, and education.
The specialization offers courses for those in the various majors within the department, as well as those from other departments of Teachers College, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, and Jewish Theological Seminary who feel their future work will benefit from new perspectives on families and communities. Courses examine basic processes of education within families, for example, the social construction of family memories, the mediation of television and other forms of technology by families, as well as the changing configurations of education in community settings, for example, linkages among museums, families and schools. Frameworks for these courses are interdisciplinary, drawing upon concepts from the social sciences and the humanities.
Those who specialize in Family and Community Education will design their programs of study with their advisor. In consultation with an advisor they may also select courses from other departments in Teachers College, as well as from elsewhere in Columbia University. Opportunities are available for individually designed programs of study and research.